Field School 2017 – Week 2
Madeleine Mathias – Marquette University
This second week of field school focused on lectures and excavation adjacent to the Calvert House. The first two days we received lectures that will help us understand more clearly what is to be expected in the field and how to identify many different artifacts that are commonly found on the Historic St. Mary’s Site. This is extremely important for us. Being able to identify artifacts will help us discern important historical objects from rocks while screening as well as connect these pieces of history to the Calvert House and history of the city. Also being able to identify a pipe stem or ceramic on site allows us the opportunity to share with visitors what a specific artifact is and why it is important or interesting to the site.
After the lecture days we spent the final three days of the week continuing excavation on the eastern end of the Calvert House and looking for possible features connected to the seventeenth century home. Our main goals were to continue on our five by five squares that we started excavating the week before and identify artifacts and possible features that connect with the site. The three initial squares that we worked on this week were unique from each other and created different opportunities and challenges. Students in one square had to dig through a gravel driveway connected to the nineteenth century Brome Howard house. There was a significant amount of gravel that students spent time sifting through. Also the students in this square learned how to excavate around roots that impacted their ability to dig. This square is adjacent to a large tree, so many roots were too large to cut away. These challenges, though, led to students learning excavating skills and working together to find artifacts that included a tobacco pipe fragment and pieces of lead shot.
Another one of the squares was very rich with artifacts because it was located to the right of an entrance of the Calvert House. The five-by-five foot square produced a large amount of artifacts that included coal, brick, lead shot, pipe fragments, ceramics, nails, Native American projectile points, and more. We got the opportunity to practice our identifying skills and recognize the differences in ceramics, pipes, and nails. It was very exciting all week finding so many wonderful artifacts that came from anywhere between the seventeenth and twentieth century.
In the final five-by-five foot square that was opened last week we found many artifacts and a possible feature of brick in one of the corners. This possible feature led to the opening of an adjacent five-by-five foot square to see if the feature continued into the new square. The reason another square was opened was to answer the question of what might these bricks tell us about the Calvert House Site. Questions such as why are these brick here will hopefully be answered as the excavation into the next weeks continues. Throughout the process of archeological excavation this week, we got more experience using the total station to find elevations, using trowels to carefully excavate soil layer by layer, and using the screens to recover and identify artifacts from the excavated soil.
The artifacts and possible features will help to understand the history of St. Mary’s City from the seventeenth century all the way through the twentieth century and be important in the museum’s future exhibits at the Calvert House. There were many different artifacts that were recovered this week that were extremely interesting. Some of my favorites were the projectile points, as well as multiple partial pipes that had maker’s marks on them.
Maker’s marks on pipes explains who made the pipe. With this information it is easier to figure out where the colonists were receiving their goods and what kind of trade and contact they had around the world. Also the possible feature is really interesting and I hope to continue to excavate the squares to find out more about their relationship to the Calvert House. We do not yet know much about this possible feature, and the opportunity to connect the dots in the next weeks is thrilling.
This week was very important because it gave important background on the artifacts that we will be discovering throughout this summer while at the same time giving us a significant amount of time out in the field digging. Archaeological work is hard. This week my group came across a shell deposit that was challenging to dig though, but the work is entertaining and absolutely enjoyable. It is really awesome to know that our hard work will lead to contributions to the future museum exhibits and knowledge about the history of the site. When we are out in the field time flies by; we are always so surprised how fast lunch comes.
Next week we will continue on our five-by-five foot squares and hopefully open more around the Calvert House that will lead to more artifact recovery and knowledge about the history of the area.